Big 12 football: Which game will be the best of 2013?

In a conference that has produced a different champion each of the last four year's, picking the top game of the season can be dicey.
by Berry Tramel Modified: June 23, 2013 at 3:45 pm •  Published: June 23, 2013

Time was, OU-Texas was the default answer to the Big 12's top football game. The automatic pick for the game most likely to decide the conference champion. But the Sooners and Longhorns haven't finished 1-2 or 2-1 in the Big 12 (or its old South Division) since 2008.

So in 2011, I stepped out by faith and went with Bedlam. Sure enough, the season-ending OSU-OU game was for the Fiesta Bowl berth. Empowered by such prescience, I went with OU-West Virginia in 2012. The Sooners' trip to Morgantown was historic and dramatic, with its video-game scoring and great finish, won 50-49 by the Sooners, but it had little impact on the conference crown. Turns out OU-Kansas State, a game played way back in September, was the Big 12's biggest game.

So what to do in 2013? What to do with a conference in which the flagship school, OU, is picked by most to drop to third or fourth? What to do with a conference that sports three other favorites — OSU, Texas, TCU — none of which finished closer than three games of the Sooners and K-State in the 2012 standings? What to do with a league that has produced four champs in the last four years (Texas '09, OU '10, OSU '11, KSU '12)? What to do with a conference in which the last three years, Baylor has a better conference record than does Texas and Iowa State has the same conference record as Texas Tech? A conference in which OSU over the last four years has the same league record as OU?

Big 12 football has become one giant scramble, which means the best way to predict the game of the year is just figure out which two teams will be atop the preseason polls. So go with the OSU at Texas game on Nov. 16.

Truth is, circle any matchup involving the Cowboys, Sooners, Longhorns and Horned Frogs. Any could emerge as the marquee game. Or a darkhorse could rise, like Kansas State did last season. Keep an eye on Baylor.

But OSU-Texas certainly has the trappings. The 'Horns, who haven't even contended for a Big 12 title since 2009, have everyone excited because of 19 returning starters. One of them is quarterback David Ash, who isn't a star but at least is experienced, which puts him ahead of most Big 12 QBs.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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